Family. Friends. Food. These are usually the most common answers international students might give when asked, “What do you miss about home?”. But for some students, missing home doesn’t just mean missing home-cooked meals or being surrounded by their loved ones.
Suvd, who also goes by the name Pearl, misses the scenery of her country the most. Hailing from Mongolia, she told us that before she left home to embark on her international student journey, she had a big family dinner with the most unforgettable view — the kind of view that she described as being vivid and beautiful. Fortunately for her, Suvd is a social butterfly and while she still misses her parents and the scenery of her country, she manages to overcome loneliness and homesickness by surrounding herself with her new friends.
Priyansh, who comes from Dubai, misses spray-jets. No seriously. For Priyansh, having a built-in spray jet at home was the sign of a cleanly bathroom. He was so desperate for one that he went out of his way to purchase a portal spray jet for toilet hygeine. Talk about high maintenance! It may be an odd thing to miss but it is something he would like to have at his home to help maintain his sense of hygeine. No wonder, his principal gave a speech dedicated to him in front of the whole school before he left to come to Australia!
South Korean student, Minji Kang what she misses most is gossiping about K-Pop. While she can still access news about it, there’s nothing quite like talking about it in person with someone who ‘just gets it’. Despite this, Minji says she doesn’t miss her home as much. “Wherever I go, I’ll [always] feel like I’m home,” she said.
Finally, Singaporean student Grace says she misses the conservatism of Singapore. Although she flies back to Singapore often (she said she would fly back on weekends, if she could!), the cultural differences between both countries have, for her, been the biggest thing to adjust to. And while she does miss her family and wished they could be in Australia to support her, she feels she has come a long way since first arriving and has begun to meditate daily to cope with feelings of anxiety and homesickness.
Advice for students experiencing homesickness
For students who may be feeling homesick, here are some wonderful suggestions on how to combat, provided by our interviewees.
- Make time to chat with your family and friends: Video chat with them as much as you feel it will help you. Texting is one thing but face-to-face interaction will help re-assure your loved ones and help you feel closer to them as well!
- Prepare a list of things to do for when you do go home: If you really miss your home, make a list of all the things you want to do when you get back so that you can truly cherish your home when you do return. Visit your favourite spot, eat at your favourite restaurant, spend time with your friends and family — whatever it is, do all the things you want to do with the people you want to spend time with!
- Keep small reminders of home: Fortunately for a majority of international students, Melbourne offers a variety of food from all around the globe, so the next time you feel a little homesick, just grab a snack from your country. Or maybe watch a movie from your country at home! Keep small cultural reminders to help you feel closer to home.
- Seek help and support: If you feel that your homesickness or anxiety may be quite severe, seek counselling! Your campus will have many cultural associations that will be happy to offer assistance. Campuses will also have plenty of access to support systems and counselling services too.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via email@example.com.